If one’s heart sinks at during the opening scenes of Arrival, perhaps it’s because director Denis Villeneuve has set the bar high in terms of avoiding sentimentality (Enemy). The set up for Louise (Amy Adams) as a bereaved mother searching to find a way forward in the wake of her daughter’s death suggests that Arrival will be a corny account of contact with extra-terrestrial life. But Arrival, while it does have some cheesy moments, is a far more thoughtful film about the potential for human-alien interaction than most. The alien language, depicted on screen in octopus-ink swirls, turns out to philosophical reflection of how they think. Their motivations remain obscure, but the effect they have on Louise and her co-worker Ian (Jeremy Renner) creates an absorbing drama which deserves a place among the best of of modern sci-fi epics.